(CTN News) – According to the Thailand Tourism Authority (TAT), more than 300,000 Chinese tourists are projected to enter Thailand over land next year. Especially in the second-tier cities of the northeast, the increase in tourist numbers can be attributed to the China-Laos railway.
Approximately 70,000 to 100,000 Chinese visitors, accounting for 2% to 3% of the estimated 3.5 million arrivals for this year, crossed into Thailand through four main border checkpoints, according to Chuwit Sirivejkul, TAT’s regional marketing director for East Asia. Before continuing to Thailand, many of these visitors took the rail route between China and Laos.
Loei has two checkpoints—Thali and Dan Sai—and Nong Khai is also in the northeast. The immigration station in Chiang Rai, known as Chiang Khong is the northern gateway. The typical tourist will spend fifteen days crisscrossing the Northeast on two wheels.
There are now two trains between China and Laos each day, in addition to six daily routes within each country. Not only does Kunming contribute to China’s tourist industry, but other regions also contribute.
TAT’s target number of land border excursions is 328,000, or 4 to 5 percent of the 8.2 million Chinese tourists expected to visit next year.
According to Bangkok Post, this expansion is expected as a result of positive expectations around the Chinese economy and the enhancement of the frequency of trains between China and Laos.
Chinese tourists must obtain a visa-on-arrival at Boten station in Laos, which costs approximately 200 yuan (US$28), before traveling to Vientiane, even if they do not need a visa to enter Thailand.
Simplifying connections for easier travel is being investigated by the China-Laos railway committee. Some vacationers, such those in their golden years with plenty of savings, those on organized tours who love taking trains, and those venturing out on their own by car, are nevertheless eager to shell out cash for adventures despite the current economic climate.
Great Wall Motor, a Chinese automaker, and TAT are teaming up to advertise five different driving routes in five different locations of Thailand. At the China International Travel Mart 2023 in Kunming, the northeastern region—also called Isaan—will be promoted to Chinese tourists.
On Saturday, TAT planned a unique caravan tour, inviting more than 200 Chinese tourists to take the China-Laos train to see Udon Thani and other regional provinces.
Many Chinese tourists and businesspeople travel to Laos via rail, according to Thanaporn Pulperm of TAT’s Udon Thani Office. Many Thais have also reserved seats on trains going for China.
About 6,550 Chinese nationals arrived in Nong Khai and 8,468 left during the first half of 2023. Thanks to the visa-free policy, Thanaporn anticipates an increase in peak season border travelers.
Additionally, in January of next year, Chinese travel agencies intend to run chartered flights between Udon Thani and Kunming. After the cabinet approves this approach in southern Songkhla, TAT intends to ask the government to halt the TM6 immigration form at the Nong Khai checkpoint.
Travelers from Vietnam, China, and Laos will reportedly reap the benefits of these improvements, which will boost the region’s tourism industry, according to Thanaporn.
Regardless of the state of the Laotian economy, TAT intends to promote new tourist spots and community products to entice well-off visitors to prolong their stay in Thailand.